CHECKPOINT 1 TO CHECKPOINT 2
110 miles. this section would be the longest between checkpoints but would be the only stretch done entirely in the daylight. that combined with the time buffer we had given ourselves left me feeling pretty good about this section of the race. man was i wrong. we had all been pretty quick to pass off the weather as being a factor and although the wind seemed mild we literally rode into a headwind for all 110 miles. and it was a thorough beatdown. the lincoln crew, myself and michael meiser rolled out together and we were joined fairly soon by jim and warren again as well as their friend joe. it seems joe had some misfortune and was involved in a crash during which someone's handlebars went into his wheel and tore off his rear derailleur. he was able to find a magic gear and ride it as a single speed but he did not look comfortable on it. they had one or two other guys in tow so we rode as a larger group for a while but eventually joe's bike needed more attention so we wished them well and headed on. the four of us continued our fight against the wind and also began to get a real good taste of level b roads. over the course of the race these b roads would come in various shapes: near concrete-like hard pack, sand, mud, rock, grass, dirt. some required actual technical skill to ride, some were impassable, some difficult to walk. they certainly provided a mental break from what can become very monotonous gravel roads.
again, we took our time. stopped at a couple of gas stations along the way then hit a point where we could see a truck stop but it was slightly off course. i was short on water and could feel some hunger/pre-bonk coming on. i tried to downplay my desire to stop but i think it was written on my face. the others obliged and while i sat there eating a huge slice of 4-meat pizza with a double cheeseburger and pepsi for dessert we collectively decided that if we finished we would look back at this as time well spent. if i remember correctly this is also the first time i spoke with jeff about giving him some of my aleve. i had no idea how much that conversation would foreshadow what would happen in the dark of night. we left that gas station as jim and warren arrived without joe. unfortunately i wasn't surprised. i don't know how far he made it but he looked strong, it just didn't look like his bike situation was going to hold out for the duration.
so the four of us saddled back up refueled and content and headed back into the wind. conversations definitely began to fade as the miles and the wind began taking their toll. somewhere along the line i ran out of sunscreen. while this may not seem like a big deal to some, being the soul lacking ginger that i am this was a huge problem. sunburns make me sick. physically ill and ruin my body's ability to regulate my temperature. i end up feeling like i'm running a terrible fever, over heating but freezing with goosebumps at the same time. so i ended up wearing my arm warmers more than i wanted simply to protect the skin. couldn't do much for the scalp but hope i'd let the hair grow enough to give it some shade. somewhere along the line here i put my first ipod on and kind of cut myself off from the social side of things for a bit. i was starting to hurt and i needed to get inside myself and get my head straight.
so roll along we did and finally we entered whatever town cp2 was in. upon entering this wonderful town a group of locals (some might say rednecks) were sitting in their lawn looking incredulous and presumably working on their second 30 pack of busch light. "hey...come over here! we need to talk to you!" i'm not sure any of us even considered obliging such a polite request but we equally politely declined the invitation and rolled into cp2. my elation in getting there was quickly cut short by the sight of too many big names standing or sitting, obviously having pulled the plug for various reasons. dennis lost out to pushing too hard and not taking care of his nutrition. one of the lincoln crew that was riding ahead of us lost it to an achilles. john gorilla (v.4 winner) lost it due to a rear derailleur torn off. we also heard charly tri had to bow out with a derailleur issue. honestly, i've never hear of so many massive derailleur failures in one mountain bike race and couldn't wrap my head around so many in a gravel race. we had made it to cp2 still with time to spare so we again took our time. gersib was able to procure a new rear tire from a rider who had to pull the plug. had he not been so fortunate his choice to run a 4 year old balding tire may have proven to be his downfall. things did work out though and as we prepared to roll out for cp3 another guy pokes his head up "hey, you guys taking off soon?" "yep...wanna join us?" "yep." that quickly our 4 became 5 and it was like finding a piece of a puzzle you didn't know you were missing. andy stockman from marin county joined our group and would prove to be a perfect compliment to our crew. in a few hours he would all but save my race for me.
somewhere between cp1 and cp2
happy to be at cp2